The FARC’s failure to deliver two of the hostages they planned to release Sunday demonstrates the guerrillas’ severe logistical problems, seriously discredits mediator Piedad Cordoba, and may bring meaningful peace talks closer.
About a week ago I started writing a column on how peace talks could take another few years given the conditions set by the government and the FARC’s unwillingness to accept these conditions (releasing all hostages, ceasing terrorist activities, etc.). I never finished that column, because I didn’t see the rush and had other priorities. The FARC still didn’t seem weak enough to compromise.
But after the FARC’s epic fail on Sunday, those peace talks may well have come a lot closer.
Following the guerrillas’ announcement of the planned releases, the government responded swiftly and prudently. At no time did the government or the armed forces appear to commit any acts that could prevent the releases.
Cordoba, again, laid her reputation on the line to secure the captives’ release and even took the opportunity to propose herself as a mediator in peace talks between government and rebels, something that was previously hinted at as a possibility by government representative Eduardo Pizarro.
But things went differently. Not because of malicious behavior by either side, but because of what appears to be a giant (excuse my French) f#ck up by the guerrillas.
In the morning of February 13, the FARC gave Cordoba and the Red Cross the coordinates of the location where the hostages could be picked up, and the international delegation went to the south of the Tolima department only to find no hostages waiting in the assigned spot.
The events of the last 24 hours will have a great impact on the future of the conflict, as the guerrilla’s massive error shows exactly how weak the FARC have become.
Ever since the army, led by former President Alvaro Uribe and supported by U.S. financial and military aid, started its offensive against the guerrillas, their military power has visibly weakened, but Sunday’s error shows they’re not even able to logistically organize themselves.
Now that the FARC’s cards are on the table, they are not in any position to make ridiculous demands in future peace talks and the government has no reason to give in to any ridiculous demands. Piedad Cordoba has lost credibility thanks to the guerrillas and can only tell the FARC to just give up.
The FARC are now left with two choices: to make peace, or to delay defeat through even bloodier attacks. I hope for their own and Colombia’s sake they are smart and choose the first.